News / Africa

Breaking Tradition: Men in Malawi Fight Gender-Based Violence

Malawian women walk past empty grain silos in the capital Lilongwe.
Malawian women walk past empty grain silos in the capital Lilongwe.
Lameck Masina
The Malawian non-government organization (NGO), Men for Gender Equality Now, is challenging the male stereotype by working to end violence against women. They are focusing on men as the agents of change.

Men in Malawi have been considered part of the problem of violence against women because of cultural attitudes that assume male superiority. The NGO's national chairperson Marcel Chisi said their recent studies indicate that 85 percent of gender based violence in Malawi is done by men towards women and girls.  

“When we look at the statistics, men are mentioned many times as being perpetrators of violence and not necessarily part of the solution," Chisi said. "And it’s high time we don’t just point at men as a problem because there are many men of good will who don’t abuse women and therefore [we thought that ] ‘why don’t we take advantage of some of men who are good ambassadors and work with them to transform their fellow men."

Husband school

Chisi said one of his group’s core activities is what is known as ‘husband’s school’ where young and old men are taught how to become responsible fathers and how they can take care of a family.

“It is drawn from women’s groupings like in bridal showers, kitchen top-ups and wardrobe top-ups where they share family practices. But yet when a young man is going into marriage, he is not told anything," explained Chisi. "What it means is that many young men have gone into marriages without necessarily knowing what to do in there.”

Chisi said his group boasts a membership of about 50,000 men across the country. They also work to address a number of other issues which were previously regarded as the female domain like the role of men in HIV prevention, child rearing and men’s responsibilities in the reproductive rights of women.

“On this we are saying: what is the role of men in deciding how many children a women would have in a family? Because normally some women have no say in their families and if men are not [at] a level of empowerment where they can negotiate at how many children they have, then we will have a man who will be bringing in so many children even they know they can’t take care of them,” Chisi noted.
 
The problem of gender violence here is well documented. In 2006, Marietta Samuel, 33, a mother of three children in the central district of Dowa, had her arms cut off by her former husband, Herbert Samuel, in an attack fueled by jealousy.  Her husband was sentenced to a 15 years in jail.

Recently a local newspaper reported that police in the central district of Kasungu arrested a man for slicing his wife’s private parts for refusing to have sex with him in the afternoon.

Despite legal action, the problems persist and that is why Chisi’s group thinks a new approach is needed to prevent the problem rather than just punish it.

Women’s groups, like Maxwell Kaliati’s Centre for Alternatives for Victimized Women, applaud Men for Gender Equality Now. “For us we have seen that this is a very important section because sometimes when you use women’s groups people think that we are being [biased]," Kaliati stated. "But when they [men] are seeing fellows doing the activities, they feel encouraged and think that this is a real case for us to change our behavior.”

Changing attitudes

And some women say it is making a real difference in their lives. Rhoda Mankhwala, a resident of Mbayani Township in Blantyre, said her husband is a different man since he attended one of the meetings organized by the NGO.

“My husband is now a changed person unlike in the past when he used to beat me up for no valid reasons," Mankhwala explained. "He would beat me up for coming late from the market even in the presence of my friends. But when he attended one of the meetings organized by the grouping there is indeed a change”.

Besides Malawi, a similar initiative is being implemented in other African countries including Uganda, Tanzania, and Zambia.

You May Like

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportionali
X
Aru Pande
December 19, 2014 1:45 AM
The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportional

The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid